The Depaul University Theatre School is raising the curtain on their newest Chicago Playworks’ production for young audiences, with a show that addresses two issues middle schoolers may be facing in their own lives – the confusing transition from middle school to high school, and immigration.
Written by Chicago playwright Carlos Murillo, “Augusta and Noble” follows 14-year-old Gabi through a process that many pre-teen Chicagoans can relate to — admission to a selective enrollment high school. But when Castillo is accepted into Northside College Preparatory High School, a whole new set of problems unfolds.
Afraid that a new school may expose their immigration status, Gabi’s mother, Dolores, hides her acceptance letter. Gabi then learns of her status for the first time, and begins to confront the obstacles faced by children of undocumented immigrants.
“We have many Latino kids in our audience, we wanted to tell a story that would reflect some of their experiences,” said Lisa Portes, head of directing at The Theatre School. Portes said they deliberately chose the play after the 2016 election.
“This is something that young people right now are dealing with very directly,” said Murillo, the head of playwriting at DePaul.
Murillo wrote the play, which debuted in 2013, with inspiration from the Northwestern Settlement, a community center at the intersection of Augusta Boulevard and Noble Street. The playwright met with dozens of families involved with the center, asking them to share their own stories. Eventually, he met the person who inspired the character of Gabi: a “thoughtful, bright and mature” pre-teen girl, whose mother “carried a lot of fear with her because of her status,” Murillo said.
He wanted to tell their story to help explain immigration on an individual level.
“As opposed to large news stories with big audiences and lots of statistics, this focuses on one girl, and one family,” said Murillo. “When we can really focus…